Dear lecturers: Please stop telling us to turn our cameras on

Nobody wants to show their face hungover, trust me


There truly is nothing better than waking up on a Monday morning, making the journey across your room to the desk with only a jumper to hide your pyjamas underneath and last night’s makeup still painting your face, to hear your lecturer utter the dreaded phrase: “Please can everyone please turn their cameras on”.

Now, I understand talking to what essentially is a bunch of initials on a screen must feel a tiny bit disheartening for any lecturer, but please for the love of God please don’t make me sit for 50 minutes questioning my every movement in the tiny box at the bottom of the screen.

Before with in-person lectures, if you were dreadfully hungover (which I was for most of the year), it was easy to hide back in the wings of the lecture theatre. No one could see your pale, nauseous face, hair still drenched in whatever drinks were spilt over you the night before and the jogging bottoms with countless stains on them. But online lectures are a different ball game now; there is nowhere to hide. You’ll definitely be regretting that night out (or I guess ‘in’ now), when you’re sat at your desk, riddled with beer fear at what a state you were in, feeling everyone’s eyes scan the different faces on the screen when the lecture topic’s got that bit too boring to concentrate anymore.

This might just be a me problem, but I worry that if anyone is as nosey as me then they are definitely judging the state of my room, especially the background which shows the cups and plates I’ve been collecting over the past few weeks from being too lazy to walk to the kitchen. The only positive is every time I see how tidy and organised everyone else’s rooms are, I feel some spur of motivation to tidy my room after the call is over.

I don’t know whether to feel envious or annoyed at the people who actually make an effort to look nice for online lectures but I’m sure they’re feeling rightfully smug whenever they’re asked to show their faces, purely for the fact they’ve spent the best part of half an hour putting foundation on to sit in their room. I tried this twice but typically but as luck would have it, neither times were we asked to turn our cameras on. The disappointment is even better when that person you really want to see won’t get to appreciate the fact that you’ve actually got changed instead of wearing that same jumper you haven’t washed since Freshers’ Week.

Another reason to hate having your camera on is that every normal thing you do like chewing on a pen or looking at your phone actually feels like a crime. It’s almost impossible now to sit on your phone paying zero attention to what’s going on now you’re essentially on FaceTime to your lecturer. Gone are the days when you could spot the person a few rows in front of you watching Netflix with the subtitles on, now you have to at least seem like you’re paying attention. Good for lectures, bad for us. Not to mention the fact that I only realised days ago that people can actually see your screen when watching back recorded lectures, meaning that my bored face will live on in the lecture archives forever.

So, realistically, even though online uni has some perks like being able to wake up five minutes before your lecture, having to sit with your camera on outweighs all of the positives I can think of. Hopefully, once second semester kicks off, the embarrassment we all feel can remain a pain of the past, or we just start a fresh record of embarrassing Zoom camera moments.

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